Flying Solo

Before I got married, I was a traveling FIEND. I loved flying and traveling solo, anywhere at all. I couldn’t afford to do it as much as I wanted–money is still a thing, after all–but I always felt something of a thrill getting onto an airplane, checking into a hotel, slipping between those cool and probably not at all hygienic sheets, and just enjoying time away from home.

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(like I’m not going to do this at home, but at a hotel, definitely)

I still do enjoy traveling, but it’s changed a lot. I used to love traveling solo; now, I can’t stand it. I need to have my family with me or else I’m mostly miserable.

Mostly.

Which is funny because traveling with a kid is probably a special circle of hell reserved for people with truck nuts, diet racists (a.k.a., “I’m not racist but…” followed by something very racist), and whoever invented these. A coworker and I were laughing about it, how anytime you vacation with your kid, you come back more exhausted than you were before you left. And that’s entirely true, even with just one kid in the picture. Sam takes an immense amount of wrangling, even more when he’s tired or hungry (which he always is on vacation; yay for schedules being all wonky?). Kyle and I have four hands between us and we feel like we need at least eight more just for one Sam.

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(still not enough)

But still.

This week, I went on a business trip. I don’t do business trips often, but I do go on them, like I’m important or something (ha, that’s funny, mostly I spent the entire time sitting in informational sessions on best practices and being too introverted and socially anxious to even yell out “BINGO!” when I got a BINGO before anyone else in the room because I didn’t want to draw attention). Before Sam was born, before I was married, I probably would’ve enjoyed the hell out of the trip, even with all the bizarre bumps in the road. And don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a bad time, but…

Well. The hotel room felt too quiet. My hands felt too unbusy. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw a little boy with blonde hair wearing a T-shirt that looks like one of Sam’s at the airport (he turned out to be, like, seven. In my defense, I’m very tired). I kept slipping away to try and catch Kyle and Sam in a quiet enough moment to call them, and even though Kyle and I dealt with vile traffic on the way home last night, it still felt like a burden off my shoulders to see him there.

My dad went on a bunch of business trips when I was a kid; I don’t remember half of them. I know he went to London, mostly because he got us a boatload of souvenirs (like a shirt that said LONDON on it in big block letters that I wore to bed basically until I was 25; and a beautifully illustrated book of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes). I know he went to Nashville once, and Berlin. Most of the business trips he went on came before 9/11, so we’d actually go to the gate with him to say good-bye (yeah, young kids, did you know you used to be able to do that?). And I could always tell he missed us by how many souvenirs he brought back, as if every time he thought of us and felt sad, he bought something for us to make himself feel better.

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(not quite this shirt but close)

I didn’t buy Sam any souvenirs, mostly because the gift shop next to my gate didn’t have anything I was willing to pick up when it was inevitably discarded within 15 minutes of Sam opening it.

But I missed him. I’ve Skyped with him and FaceTimed with him, but I haven’t gotten a chance to hug him yet, and I’m looking forward to that.

I don’t know. I’m not one of those people who are like “I AM NOTHING WITHOUT MY CHILD” because I know that’s not true. I’d still be feeling this way if Sam wasn’t in the picture and it was just Kyle and Kat I was leaving behind every time I traveled. There’s something about building your own family that makes you want to have them within driving distance, if not at all times, then at least with great frequency. And it makes you miss them when you’re apart from each other.

Our house isn’t the same when one of the four of us (five, with Tinkerbell, whom I include for this exercise) isn’t there. It feels incorrect, like if you’re playing a song on the piano and skip a note or like when you’re walking along and miss a step.

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(for the record, I do this all the time)

And, well. I don’t feel myself when I’m apart from my family. Maybe that makes me a little pathetic, but that’s okay. It only really becomes a big deal when there’s a business trip anyway.

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